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People, Parliament, Government and Law

The UK has been in a perfect political and legal storm.  It has a minority Government, a Referendum that narrowly supported leaving the EU and a Parliament that overwhelmingly rejects leaving the EU.

In normal times the Government would call a General Election but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 prevents this action.  As a result the opposition in Parliament can hold a minority Government hostage.  This is absurd and a sign of poorly thought out legislation.

Three factors exacerbate the ill-effect of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.  The first is that there has been a Referendum that supported leaving the EU, the second is that large numbers of Remain MPs managed to get elected by promising, “hand on heart”, that they would implement the Referendum and the third is that a small group of Remain Tories negotiated a Withdrawal Agreement that they knew would be unacceptable.

The unacceptable Withdrawal Agreement has achieved its objective which was to polarise leaving the EU into No Deal or Revoke Article 50.  The Remain MPs, faced with this choice, support banning No Deal (ie: revoking Article 50).

Remain are now not just holding the Government hostage, they are holding the Country hostage.

Mixed in with the Leave-Remain divide is the fact that the opinion polls show that Labour, the main opposition party, will do very badly in any General Election and so they are motivated to put off an election for as long as possible.  The broadcast media are increasing the difficulties by redefining the English language and describing the act of holding the Government hostage as a “coup” by the Government when it is clearly the opposite.

Minority Government, a lying, reneging majority of Remain MPs, an opposition terrified of the people in a General Election, a faulty Act of Parliament, a perfect storm.

What can the Government do now? There are still numerous possibilities such as promising generous aid to smaller EU countries to eject the UK from the EU, leaving the EU early or withdrawing funding from the EIB, withdrawing all staff and cooperation and announcing departure on 18th October then resigning on 19th October.  My favourite is to plan all three but to leave the EU tomorrow, the EU extension letter is not an International Treaty and can be abrogated.  If the Government removes all EU staff and all financial support tomorrow the EU is unlikely to look kindly on the UK at the EU Council Meeting on 17th-18th October, there will be no way back.

This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog:

About John Sydenham

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Dr John Sydenham has worked in International Pharmaceuticals and for one of the "big four" International Consultancies. He ran a successful company for 15 years and after selling the company devotes his time to travel, science, black labradors and freedom.

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  1. A fixed term for the legislature can make a certain sense where the powers of government are separated, as in the USA. I cannot see how it could make any sense at all in a polity based on parliamentary responsibility.

  2. It did occur to me that Dr. John Sydenham is attributing altogether too much organized coherent purpose to the causes which have brought about the current state of affairs.

  3. While hardly surprising that somebody viscerally opposed to the European Union may not understand how its Member States make decisions, it is breathtakingly astonishing that so zealous a proponent as Effie of a certain kind of British ideology does not understand how the British system of government works. Parliament permits some of its Members to exercise the powers of the Crown as the Government. Outside such permission, the Government has no right, by Law or by convention to govern. Parliament is incapable ex hypothesi of usurping *anything* in respect of the Government. It cannot hold it to ransom, or perform any other of the party tricks to which allusion is made. Much was made in the Leave campaign of the necessity to ‘restore’ the sovereignty (in fact never lost) of Parliament. Parliament is now exercising its sovereignty: I cannot see why Effie et al. are complaining.

  4. The Withdrawal Act 2018 is an international treaty having had a Commencement Order signed for it by Steve Barclay in which the Order specifies that the ‘Withdrawal ‘ occurs on 31st October 2019. This Order was written quite correctly by the Minister if State responsible for Exiting the EU, Steve Barclay, was made known as per Parliamentary protocol to the House and was agreed by the EU Commission.
    It is thus written into international and EU law and the date cannot be changed.
    So, when Boris says he won’t ask for an extension it is because he can’t and the EU can’t give one. When he says he will not break the law, that is quite right. He won’t break the Withdrawal Act 2018 which is cemented in international law. This law supersedes any nonsensical law such as the Benn law.
    We leave on October 31st 2019

    • 1. In Law, no Statute more or less nonsensical than another.

      2. For a Treaty to enter force, it must be agreed between the High Contracting Parties, and then ratified by each and every one of them. For the UK, ratification consists of passing a relevant Act or
      Acts by Parliament.

      3. The most recent UK Act prevents the UK from fulfilling its part of the relevant Treaty without first having obtained an Agreement acceptable to Parliament. Quite how this affects the standpoint of the other 27 Member States is not yet clear.

      4. Ergo *nobody* knows exactly what will happen at midnight on 31st October.

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